Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Journey. . . IS the Journey


Ok. Time for a look behind the scenes of the Don and Linda trips.  It’s a combo “True Confessions” mixed with “Reporting from the Scene. . .”

I, Linda, plan our trips.  I imagine them, play with dates, spend late nights and early mornings researching accommodations, restaurants, interesting places to visit, trying to take into account each and every element that would make this trip special, memorable, and fun.  I plan surprises, a variety of accommodation types, schedules for tours. In other words, I OWN THE TRIP!!

One thing I didn’t take into account on this particular trip was the difficulty we would have in finding the accommodations I had booked. Sometimes we were given only a village name, sometimes an address which defied all logic.  And the heat.  Each time we pulled into a town it was probably close to 90 degrees F.   We were toast.

This caused stress.  And arguments. And me saying, “That’s IT.  I will NEVER travel with you again.  I HATE this.”  Read into this crossed arms, lots of harrumphing on both sides, and exasperation.

About half way through the trip, faced with yet another hot afternoon, unknown streets, and the knowledge that ONE of us strongly dislikes walking up hills and down hills, I think I really lost it.  And it was at that point that Don came through with some words something like, “Lin, this is part of this trip.  It’s really part of the journey, part of the mystery, part of the hunt.  Sure,  the goal is to find our apartment, but really, let’s just enjoy the process.”

Later in the evening, reflecting upon what he had said, these words just popped right out of my mouth, “You know, you were RIGHT.”   Don, in mock or maybe real disbelief fell over laughing and for the rest of the trip we chuckled when we looked back upon this AHA moment!  

We still found ourselves confounded at times, trying to decide between a map, a 10-year-old GPS, or signposts.  I learned to ask our hosts in emails where we could meet them to find the apartment.  People were very ready to help and direct us,  and if we were both listening to directions we could piece it together.  We relaxed and discovered that walking up and down hills looking for an address  strengthens hips and legs,  stress and anger produces more body heat, and ultimately, we were never really LOST,, just temporarily mis-guided.

 I loosened my grip on MY TRIP to allow for the unknown, the unexplored, the untested.  With my concession to Don that he was RIGHT, he loosened his grip on . . .well, he just loosened his grip!! 

Is it a metaphor for Life?  

What if it really IS possible to loosen your grip, approach each unfamiliar road with curiosity, forget the drama and pre-suppositions, accept that Mother Nature gives you what She does, not be so focused on the end result that you miss beauty.  

Speaking only for myself, I liked the journey much more from that point forward.  

And this just might be the best photo of the entire three week trip through Maremma and beyond! 

 Arriverderci, Italy!  You always change my Life!  Grazie mille!

Doors and more.. . 


Starting to wrap things up, as today is our final day here in Italy.   We are up early, having heard the myriad bird calls, roosters, and the local braying donkey here in our country house by the Monster Park.  In going back through photos, here are some that didn’t make it in to other blogs but seem worthy of mention.  I’ve collected quite a few “door” photos.

And then there were two sweet menu covers, not to be forgotten. . . 

The wood-burning oven and lower terrace at our country house in Bomarzo.  We imagined summer nights of friends sitting under the stars, eating pizza, just like in Gemma’s favorite pop-up book about Strega Nonna.  And we remember the best night ever, doing just that, at Donna and Joe’s.

Watching “Say Yes to the Dress” in Italian.  I even remembered that exact episode!!

Elina and Sergio’s cat who I found sleeping on my feet one night!  After I put her out once, she found her way back in through an open window.  SHE PERSISTED!!!

The pomegranate tree at our Bomarzo country house. . . 

And our hotel near the airport, the Golden Tulip.  Don has gone to return the car, so here’s a view from our balcony. . . 

We’ll have lunch and maybe even a dip in the pool.

Getting ready to say Arriverderci to Italy. . . But we still have a few hours remaining!

Bomarzo and a warning!


Warning. . .parts of this blog are X-rated!  But first, just a few photos of tiny Bomarzo itself.

We ventured into the town after lunch and discovered yet another sweet Medieval town, but this one was different from others.  It was built much closer together than others we’ve visited.  Passageways seemed narrower and stairways closer together.

The entrance to the Duomo was unobtrusive and on a “back street” but inside. . .wow. . .a beauty.

In the evening we went out for dinner at 8 pm and discovered that there was to be a wedding reception at the restaurant.  We were excited!!  What would it be like to be a witness to the fun.  Don even told the restaurant owner that we had known each other for 50 years and he brought us a rose for our table.

We imagined guests lounging with drinks in hand under this sweet cabana, wisteria overhead, stone table and chairs ready and waiting.

We tried to guess if it might be the elegantly dressed, English-speaking African wedding party we saw in Bomarzo in the afternoon, and what they had been doing in the interim.  We were told guests would arrive at 9 pm.  Of course, that’s Italian time, and it was now 9:15, so we ordered dolce and caffe to prolong our stay.  Oh, and while we enjoyed all the American dreamy music that the Dj was playing for no one in particular (we were the only ones eating outside), we decided to dance under the perfect breezy evening, our second last in Italy.  

When we heard car doors slam, we knew guests had arrived.  We eagerly watched, hoping to see the elegantly dressed guests ready to enjoy the balmy and beautiful evening under the stars.



Help, Sara, I need to ramp up my Italian to better translate what I thought I heard the restaurant owner tell us!  

The party came alive with the DJ singing to the girls, karaoke, and all the ensuing misbehavior of the bride and her friends.

Oh, what a night. . . .

Bomarzo and the Monster Garden


The sign for the Sacred Wood is adjacent to the road which leads to our house.  We live right beside the Monster Park!

The sculptures were created by Prince Vicino Orsini, grief-stricken after his wife died in 1552.  The great architect Pirro Ligorio designed the rock sculptures as the behest of the Prince and include figures of monsters, dragons, mythological subjects and exotic animals, a crooked house, a funerary temple, fountains, seats, and obelisks with carved mottoes and inscriptions.  There is no coherence or commonality, and even the most impassioned scholars can’t really make sense of it all.  After centuries of neglect, artists and intellectuals began to pay attention to it, including   Salvador Dali, Goethe, and others.  It was restored during the 1970’s.

So let’s take a look.  There are SO MANY amazingly fanciful huge massive sculptures.

Cerberus, the three-headed guardian of the Underworld.

Proteus, also known as Glauco. The colossal head with its prophetic mounts and long waves is the son of NeptunekProteus . The castle on top of the globe is meant to be Orsini’s, signifying the power of the family in the world.

Elephants carrying castles were popular symbols in medieval and Renaissance art, standing for both strength and restraint, often with reference to Hannibal’s famous use of elephants to invade the Italian peninsula. This elephant holds a wounded or dead Roman soldier in its trunk who, in turns, holds a now unidentifiable object loosely in his right hand. Scholars argue over whether he is being caught or thrown by elephant–protecting or discarding. Regardless, the elephant represents both the triumphs and defeats of Roma. It is an African elephant and, therefore, likely to be recalling also Scipio, an African who, according to legend, never left the side of his war elephants.

The strange, leaning house serves as a passage to the upper garden level. The head-spinning unease of standing inside is meant to spur you on to the rest of the garden. The Orsini coat of arms and motto are inscribed on the facade of the house. As for me, I just wanted to get out of there!

The wrestling giants depict the struggle between good and evil. Hercules, as the protector of the weak, stands as he “rents asunder” Caucus who stole food from the poor. Hercules serene expression indicates that his intention is not one of mere brutality but a moral act in overcoming evil.

Proserpine (and Luisa) greet visitors with gifts of Italian melons.

The turtle, a blessed symbol of the feminine powers of the waters of Aphrodite, fortitude, strength and longevity, supports the female figure of winged victory standing on the globe. They all face the water and stare into the open jaws of the whale, representing power and ancient knowledge.

The Whale

The Ogre. . .Orcus is also one of the names of the king of the Underworld. The crumbling inscription around the lips names of the extraordinary infernal vision reads: All Reason Departs. It can be completed with reference to Dante’s inscription above the mouth of hell in which Dante’s damned are told to abandon hope. The tongue forms a bizzarre picnic table inside, with seating for a small party.

The sculptor gave this Venus the matronly, hard features of an Etruscan woman, naming her as the Virile Venus, friend of Mars, guardian of chastity and virtue.

So there you have some of the highlights of the Sacro Bosco a Bomarzo.  There really is so much more!  WE heard a lot of English spoken here, the most we’ve heard in 3 weeks.  It is a great place for families and kids.

The weather was breezy and the morning was quite enjoyable.  We found some lunch at a bar called Il Quadrofoglia (The Four Leaves) and had a pleasant conversation with an American couple and their 8-year-old son, traveling fromSan Diego to Sicily for a family wedding.  

Then, of course, it was back home were we SWORE we wouldn’t have a nap.

Fake News. . .We had a nap!